Questions about competing within British Dressage - we have put together the answers to the top questions.

Which level and section should I start competing at?

There are several levels which make up our competitions; starting from Intro, the first level where the test is in walk and trot and Prelim, which is the first level where canter is introduced. The levels include; Intro, Prelim, Novice, Elementary, Medium, Advanced Medium, Advanced, Prix St George, Intermediate I, Intermediate II and Grand Prix. Each level is made up of a number of tests that you can work through, each test is unique with tests within the same level sharing the same movements. To view the tests for each level, visit our online shop, or download the Dressage TestPro app.

Each level of competition e.g. Preliminary or Novice is divided in to three sections Gold, Silver and Bronze. The section into which a member may enter is determined by the horses and rider’s experience and points won at each level of competition. Each level will run as one class with all riders being judged by the same judge. At the end of the class, for results and qualification purposes, the class will be divided in to the different sections. 

  • Bronze sections are for less experienced horses and riders who have just started competing at a given level so that they can compete against those with a similar ability.
  • Silver sections are designed for those combinations that have achieved more ability at a level and have demonstrated that they are no longer a beginner at that level.
  • Gold sections are for riders who have gained experience at higher levels and are riding a horse with less experience, or for combinations who have demonstrated that they are competent at a level. There is no obligation for a combination to move out of the Gold section at any given level should they not wish to compete at the levels above.

There's more info on our 'dressage defined' page.

How do the points work?

You win points when you compete in an affiliated class at Prelim level and above and score a minimum of 60%. Points are awarded to the horse/rider according to the percentage they score; for example, if you score 65% in an elementary class, the horse/rider wins three points. Points accumulated at each level will then count towards the horse or riders eligibility for future competitions.

Points table: 

60.00-61.99% 1 point
62.00-63.99% 2 points
64.00-65.99% 3 points
66.00-67.99% 4 points
68.00-69.99% 5 points
70.00-71.99% 6 points
72.00-73.99% 7 points
74.00-75.99% 8 points
76.00-77.99% 9 points
78.00-79.99% 10 points
80.00% and above 11 points

Points are not awarded for Intro, music classes, Young Horse classes or Team Quest Competitions. There is also a separate points table for horses and riders competing in CDI competitions from PSG to Grand Prix and CDI YJP. For more information on points and eligibility, visit the members' handbook.


Do I need to plait my horse when I compete in affiliated classes?

There are no rules to say you must plait your horse, but most people do.

Is rising trot allowed?

Trot work may be ridden sitting or rising for all tests at Elementary level and below. At Medium level trot work must be ridden sitting except extended/Medium trot movements, which may be ridden in rising. At Advanced Medium level and above sitting trot is mandatory. For National Young Horses tests in 4, 5 and 6 year old classes trot work may be sitting or rising. FEI tests, including Young Horse tests, require sitting trot. Except where specifically stated otherwise.

Do I have to leave the arena at A at the end of a test?

Riders are to leave the arena (after the final salute) at walk on a long rein at an appropriate place. A test begins when the horse enters at A and finishes when it moves off from the final salute.

Can I have a commander for my test?

Commanders may be used in all classes except for area festivals, all championships, selection trials, though may be used for warm up classes with the agreement of the organiser. See our Members Handbook for the full table. 

Can I use a whip?

In normal competitions, one whip is permitted (unless dispensation has been given) and may be of any length. At most Championships, whips are not permitted but check the Members' Handbook for the full rule.

Am I allowed to wear a speaker watch for my test?

At present, speaker watches are not permitted. 

What's a PYO test?

PYO stands for Pick Your Own. They're an option at Advanced and FEI levels where there's a selection and you choose which one you'd like to do. All riders will be judged and it's still the highest percentage wins.